Hawthorn's fading finals hopes rest on securing victory against a depleted Carlton outfit on Sunday. A shock loss to the Lions in Launceston leaves the Hawks outside of the eight on percentage, though they will fancy their chances against a Blues team with just one win for the year. Tom Mitchell will go head-to-head with Patrick Cripps in a meeting of the game's best ball winners, while Carlton will have its hands full dealing with Luke Breust. The Blues have struggled defending small forwards all year, with Breust among the game's best. An injury to James Sicily also robs the game of a potential match-up with either Charlie Curnow or Harry McKay, who have been bright spots in an otherwise disappointing year for Carlton. The Hawks have won 14 of their past 15 against the Blues, expect that record to continue.
WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Sunday, July 22, 1.10pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
LAST FIVE TIMES
Rd 22, 2017: Carlton 12.5 (77) d Hawthorn 10.10 (70) at Etihad Stadium
Rd 19, 2016: Hawthorn 10.14 (74) d Carlton 7.13 (55) at University of Tasmania Stadium
Rd 23, 2015: Hawthorn 17.11 (113) d Carlton 8.8 (56) at the MCG
Rd 17, 2015: Hawthorn 27.11 (173) d Carlton 4.11 (35) at Etihad Stadium
Rd 13, 2014: Hawthorn 18.10 (118) d Carlton 13.12 (90) at the MCG
THE SIX POINTS
1. Carlton’s win late in 2017 ended a long losing sequence against Hawthorn. The Hawks had won the previous 14 games against the Blues, including six by 50 points or more.
2. The Blues are ranked 17th for scoring this season, kicking an average score of 62 points per game. They're first for points conceded, giving up an average of 101 points.
3. Hawthorn has dominated Carlton at Etihad Stadium, winning seven of 10 matches. Against all teams, the Hawks have lost two of three games at the venue this season.
4. The Hawks are one of the most accurate teams in front of goal this season at 51 per cent, compared to the Blues' 45.3 per cent. Hawthorn has kicked 205 goals to Carlton's 141.
5. No team has taken the ball inside 50 less than the Blues this season, averaging just 44.6 per game. The Hawks have been better, but not outstanding, ranked 13th at 55.3 per game.
6. Carlton gun Patrick Cripps moved to a career-high ranking in the Schick AFL Player Ratings, jumping to 16th in the League on the back of his 35-disposal game against St Kilda.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR...
Jack Gunston. He's been thrown into the back line when Hawthorn has needed him this year, but will he move there full-time now that James Sicily has been struck by injury? The role Alastair Clarkson hands his gun swingman this week could give a good indication for how he's used in the lead-up to the finals.
PREDICTION: Hawthorn by 29 points